Number of refugees arriving in Estonia has stabilized - minister

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo.
Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo. Source: ERR

The number of refugees from Ukraine arriving in Estonia has stabilized in recent weeks, Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) said on Wednesday. The government has allocated enough funding for 50,000 refugees.

"Migration flows have stabilized in terms of crowds, which gives us some confidence that we can operate in a somewhat stabilized situation. However, migration corridors have changed and Ukrainian war refugees are now arriving in Estonia from the east," she said.

As of Thursday, 33,927 have arrived in Estonia intending to stay for the foreseeable future - this is around 2.5 percent of Estonia's population.

Approximately, 500 new refugees are arriving in Estonia every day and usually around half are in transit to other countries.

The minister said it is not known how many have already returned to Ukraine, but the Ministry of Interior is trying to find out.

Approximately 4,500 refugees are living in short-term accommodation provided by the government and the rest are staying with family, friends or have found their own housing.

"About 130 people move out of short-term accommodation every day," Riisalo said.

50,000 refugees expected to arrive

Last week, additional funding was allocated for refugees in the government's supplementary budget.

"Estimates have been made in the budget for 50,000 war refugees," Riisalo said.

The money, amounting to €44.3 million, will be used for expenses related to refugees, such as temporary housing, medication, transport, psychological support and state support, such as child benefits, pensions and disability benefits.

Riisalo said the government has amended the law so a pensioner living alone would not have their benefits reduced if they offer accommodation to a refugee.

It was initially expected that between 2,000 and 10,000 refugees would arrive in Estonia from Ukraine, but this estimate was quickly overshot.

In comparison, Lithuania has accepted 50,000 refugees and Latvia 22,000.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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